A Matter of Rats
It is not only the past that lies in ruins in Patna, it is also the present. But that is not the only truth about the city that Amitava Kumar explores in this vivid, entertaining account of his hometown. We accompany him through many Patnas, the myriad cities locked within the city—the shabby reality of the present-day capital of Bihar; Pataliputra, the storied city of emperors; the dreamlike embodiment of the city in the minds and hearts of those who have escaped contemporary Patna's confines. Full of fascinating observations and impressions, A Matter of Rats reveals a challenging and enduring city that exerts a lasting pull on all those who drift into its orbit. Kumar's ruminations on one of the world's oldest cities, the capital of India's poorest province, are also a meditation on how to write about place. His memory is partial. All he has going for him is his attentiveness. He carefully observes everything that surrounds him in Patna: rats and poets, artists and politicians, a girl's picture in a historian's study, and a sheet of paper on his mother's desk. The result is this unique book, as cutting as it is honest.
With an official population approaching fifteen million, Karachi is one of the largest cities in the world. It is also the most violent. Since the mid-1980s, it has endured endemic political conflict and criminal violence, which revolve around control of the city and its resources (votes, land and bhatta-"protection" money). These struggles for the city have become ethnicized. Karachi, often referred to as a "Pakistan in miniature," has become increasingly fragmented, socially as well as territorially. Despite this chronic state of urban political warfare, Karachi is the cornerstone of the economy of Pakistan. Gayer's book is an attempt to elucidate this conundrum. Against journalistic accounts describing Karachi as chaotic and ungovernable, he argues that there is indeed order of a kind in the city's permanent civil war. Far from being entropic, Karachi's polity is predicated upon organisational, interpretative and pragmatic routines that have made violence "manageable" for its populations. Whether such "ordered disorder" is viable in the long term remains to be seen, but for now Karachi works despite-and sometimes through-violence.
Faith Based Violence and Deobandi Militancy in Pakistan
This book documents and highlights the Deobandi dimension of extremism and its implications for faith-based violence and terrorism. This dimension of radical Islam remains largely ignored or misunderstood in mainstream media and academic scholarship. The book addresses this gap. It also covers the Deobandi diaspora in the West and other countries and the role of its radical elements in transnational incidents of violence and terrorism. The specific identification of the radical Deobandi and Salafi identity of militants is useful to isolate them from the majority of peaceful Sunni and Shia Muslims. Such identification provides direction to governmental resources so they focus on those outfits, mosques, madrassas, charities, media and social medial channels that are associated with these ideologies. This book comes along at a time when there is a dire need for alternative and contextual discourses on terrorism.
State and Nation Building in Pakistan
Religion, violence, and ethnicity are all intertwined in the history of Pakistan. The entrenchment of landed interests, operationalized through violence, ethnic identity, and power through successive regimes has created a system of 'authoritarian clientalism.' This book offers comparative, historicist, and multidisciplinary views on the role of identity politics in the development of Pakistan. Bringing together perspectives on the dynamics of state-building, the book provides insights into contemporary processes of national contestation which are crucially affected by their treatment in the world media, and by the reactions they elicit within an increasingly globalised polity. It investigates the resilience of landed elites to political and social change, and, in the years after partition, looks at the impact on land holdings of population transfer. It goes on to discuss religious identities and their role in both the construction of national identity and in the development of sectarianism. The book highlights how ethnicity and identity politics are an enduring marker in Pakistani politics, and why they are increasingly powerful and influential. An insightful collection on a range of perspectives on the dynamics of identity politics and the nation-state, this book on Pakistan will be a useful contribution to South Asian Politics, South Asian History, and Islamic Studies.
Koran Kalashnikov and Laptop
Since the Allied invasion of Afghanistan in 2002, the Bush administration has celebrated the imminent demise of the Taliban, with claims of a "moral and psychological defeat" playing a prominent role in the presidential elections of 2004. Some commentators suggested that "reconstruction and development" had won over the Afghan population, despite widespread criticism of the meager distribution of aid and failed attempts at "nation building," not to mention the infamous corruption of Kabul's power-hoarding elites. In March 2006, both Afghan and American officials continued to assert that "the Taliban are no longer able to fight large battles." Unfortunately that theory would soon collapse beneath the weight of a series of particularly ferocious clashes, causing the mood in the American media to turn from one of optimism to one of defeatism and impending catastrophe. Suddenly faced with a very sophisticated and creative form of guerilla warfare, the West found itself at a loss to fight an insurgency that bore little resemblance to its former enemy. In the first book ever to be published on the neo-Taliban, Antonio Giustozzi provocatively argues that the appearance of the neo-Taliban should in no way have been a surprise. Beginning in 2003, a growing body of evidence began to surface that cast doubt on the official interpretation of the conflict. With the West cutting corners to maintain peace within the country, which included tolerating Afghanistan's burgeoning opium trade, the Taliban was able to regroup and grow in strength, weapons, and recruits. Giustozzi's book poses a bold challenge to contemporary accounts of the invasion and its aftermath and is an important investigation into the rise and dangerous future of the neo-Taliban.
Civil Democratic Islam
In the face of Islam's own internal struggles, it is not easy to see who we should support and how. This report provides detailed descriptions of subgroups, their stands on various issues, and what those stands may mean for the West. Since the outcomes can matter greatly to international community, that community might wish to influence them by providing support to appropriate actors. The author recommends a mixed approach of providing specific types of support to those who can influence the outcomes in desirable ways.
Sufis and Salafis in the Contemporary Age
Sufis and Salafis in the Contemporary Age explores the dynamics at play between what are usually understood as two very different forms of Islam, namely Sufism and Salafism. Sufism is commonly understood as the peaceful and mystical dimension of Islam whereas Salafism is perceived as strictly pietistic and moralist, and for some it conjures up images of violent manifestations of Islam. Of course these generalisations require more nuanced investigation, and this book provides a number of case studies from around the Islamic world to unpack the intricate relationship between the two. The diversity of the case studies that focus on Islamic groups in India, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and South East Europe reflect the multiplicity of relationships that exist between the Salafis and Sufis. The specific case studies are framed by an introduction that provides essential historical background and definitions of the terms, and also by general studies of the Sufi?Salafi relationship which enable the reader to focus on the large picture. This will be the first book to investigate the relationship between Sufism and Salafism in such a wide fashion, and includes chapters on "traditional" Sufis, as well as from those who consider that Sufism and Salafism are not necessarily contradictory.
South Asian Sufis
Often described as the soul of Islam, Sufism is one of the most interesting yet least known facet of this global religion. Sufism is the softer more inclusive and mystical form of Islam. Although militant Islamists dominate the headlines, the Sufi ideal has captured the imagination of many. Nowhere in the world is the handprint of Sufism more observable than South Asia, which has the largest Muslim population of the world, but also the greatest concentration of Sufis. This book examines active Sufi communities in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh that shed light on the devotion, and deviation, and destiny of Sufism in South Asia. Ã?Â Drawn from extensive work by indigenous and international scholars, this ethnographical study explores the impact of Iran on the development of Sufi thought and practice further east, and also discusses Sufism in diaspora in such contexts as the UK and North America and Iran's influence on South Asian Sufism.
Sufism and the Modern in Islam
Sufism has not only survived into the twenty-first century but has experienced a significant resurgence throughout the Muslim world. Sufism and the 'Modern' in Islam offers refreshing new perspectives on this phenomenon, demonstrating surprising connections between Sufism and Muslim reformist currents, and the vital presence of Sufi ideas and practices in all spheres of life. Contrary to earlier theories of the modernization of Muslim societies, Sufi influence on the political, economic and intellectual life of contemporary Muslim societies has been considerable. Although less noticed than the resurgence of radical Islam, Sufi orders and related movements involve considerably larger numbers of followers, even among the modern urban middle classes. This innovative study brings together new comparative and interdisciplinary research to show how Sufis have responded to modernization and globalization and how various currents of Islamic reform and Sufism have interacted. Offering fascinating new insights into the pervasive Sufi influence on modern Islamic religiosity and contemporary political and economic life, this book raises important questions about Islam in the age of urbanism and mass communications.